MANCHESTER UNITED fans are crying out for Rasmus Hojlund to lead the team out of their early season struggles.
GettyRasmus Hojlund joined Manchester United this summer from Atalanta[/caption]
EPAHe addressed the Denmark fans after his country’s 1-0 win over Finland during the international break[/caption]
And after a controversial couple of weeks for boss Erik ten Hag involving Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Antony, Hojlund is finally ready to deliver some more good news.
The 20-year-old striker is now hoping to make a big noise as he eyes his full debut against Brighton tomorrow.
And the sporting director of his old Danish club is convinced he has the personality and ability to be an Old Trafford hit.
Christian Mouroux, of minnows Horsholm-Usserod Idraetsklub in North Zealand, knows Hojlund well after working with him from the age of 12.
He revealed: “Rasmus has never been an arrogant person, but he has always been extremely confident and, more than that, extremely focused.
“If anyone can, I would say it is Rasmus who can cope with that pressure.”
Hojlund is not the first strapping, self-assured Danish centre forward to arrive in England with big expectations.
Mouroux, who himself followed Hojlund to Brondby as a coach, said: “A good comparison can be made to the other rising superstar we had in Nicklas Bendtner.
“They are both No 9s, both very physical and have this twinkle in the eye. They are humorous, outgoing and cheeky.
“Bendtner was probably a more naturally-gifted footballer but that perhaps made him take things more lightly and get influenced by everything that affects you from the outside when you become a superstar.
“Rasmus is completely different. Although I’m sure he will probably buy a bigger car and has a nice watch, it will not blow out of proportion.
“He has the right mentality for it. He is so disciplined. He is very aware of what hard work does for you and it’s hard work that has brought him to where he is today.”
GettyNicklas Bendtner burst on to the scene with Arsenal where he went on to score 47 goals in 171 appearances[/caption]
GettyHojlund will be hoping to make an even bigger impact in the Premier League than Bendtner did[/caption]
Hojlund’s discipline comes from dad Anders, a former semi-pro striker, and mum Kirsten Winther, an ex-100metre sprinter.
The family home is still just around the corner from HUI and was adapted to help Hojlund and his younger twin brothers Oscar and Emil (now in FC Copenhagen’s Under-19 team) reach their potential.
Mouroux said: “Rasmus’ father is a carpenter. When they renovated their house, he converted the basement into a football field so they could play even when the weather was bad.
“Anders coached all three of his sons at HUI. But when those boys came home and had lost a game, or had not played well, the mother was just as tough on them, maybe even more, pushing them to have the right mentality.
“They’ve had it from very young and from both sides.”
Rasmus has never been an arrogant person, but he has always been extremely confident and, more than that, extremely focused.
Hojlund’s commitment to self-improvement, rather than spectacular talent, was what made him stand out as a kid.
Mouroux said: “He played a year up and was always quite physically developed. An attacking midfielder, as I recall.
“But he wasn’t extremely fast, like he is now, and he wasn’t extraordinarily gifted compared to those he was playing with.
“I do remember watching him running round the field in a Manchester United shirt. But I saw him more often in the stadium training on his own.
“Standing out came later for him, thanks to the individual training he did, constantly being down there running through cones, shooting, his father giving him balls again and again, and training with his brothers.”
Hojlund stood out as a kid because of his commitment to self-improvement
He regularly played against opponents a year up from his age group
GettyMan United fans will be hoping Hojlund can be the striker they so desperately crave[/caption]
HUI had a partnership with Brondby and Hojlund moved just before his 12th birthday.
But when he and his father felt he was not making enough progress, he went to FC Copenhagen.
There, Hojlund’s ability to be a powerhouse No 9 was unlocked and he made his first-team debut at 17.
Yet he was unable to establish himself as first-choice frontman. So in January 2022, as an 18- year-old, he upped sticks to Austria to join Sturm Graz.
SG sporting director Andreas Schicker and head coach Christian Ilzer were struck by how confidently Hojlund took the big move in his stride.
After an impressive first half-season, Hojlund started the next campaign in style. The second goal of his double in a 2-1 win over champions Red Bull Salzburg in July 2022, a lightning-quick run that ended with a fine finish, was transformational.
He has the right mentality for it. He is so disciplined. He is very aware of what hard work does for you and it’s hard work that has brought him to where he is today.
Ilzer said: “It was probably the goal that opened all the doors of European football for him.”
Weeks later, he was signed for nearly £15million by Atalanta for nearly, whose boss Gian Piero Gasperini added to the “new Erling Haaland” hype.
Less than a year after that, United agreed an initial fee of £64m, plus £8m in add-ons, to make him by far the most expensive Danish player ever.
Mouroux said: “When the number first came, I know he was surprised.
“But as soon as he had taken that in, he thought: ‘There must be a reason why someone wants to pay this for me. Someone believed in what I am able to do, now it’s just a matter of me doing what is expected of me and what I know I can do to fulfil that expectation’. ”
There were signs of promise in Hojlund’s United debut off the bench in the defeat at Arsenal.
Now, fresh from delivering a rallying cry to his country, he needs to give United fans something to shout about.
GettyHojlund impressed last season with nine league goals in 32 appearances for Atalanta[/caption]
GettyHojlund showed small sparks of promise during his small cameo against Arsenal[/caption]